This week’s Mind the Gap asks the question of whether violence in the media (television, video games, music, movies) causes violence in real life.
I am of the opinion that no, media violence does not cause real violence. I’ve watched a number of violent movies, including a healthy appreciation for Quentin Tarantino. I’ve read books that attempt to get into the minds of murderers and psychopaths. I played a bloody game called Unreal Tournament when I was ten or so, and now play World of Warcraft regularly (which is not bloody at all, but has gotten blamed for violence in the past). However, I’m one of the people who will always speak out for peace, against violence. I believe there should be stricter gun control, mental health should be paid more attention to, etc. I am a pretty empathetic person, despite all the violence I’ve apparently been subjected to.
However, this doesn’t mean that the violence in these mediums can’t cause violence for someone else. Maybe it does, but I don’t believe it means we should curb or censor media beyond its artistic value because we’re afraid it might cause someone to commit a horrible crime. Blaming real-life violence on violence depicted in media is a cop-out. There is a complexity to why people commit crimes, or suddenly go on shooting sprees or set a bomb in the middle of a marathon race. It might have been abuse they endured in their lives, low self-esteem, mental illness, indoctrination, or any other number of things that can drive them to violence.
One factor that I do believe perpetrates real violence is the sensationalism we’ve been seeing in the news media in the past few years. Every time there’s a mass shooting, or a bombing, or any other atrocious crime, people are obsessed with finding out more, a lot of times giving the criminal the attention that they are possibly aiming for. Stephen King touches on it in his short piece Guns.
In conclusion, we can’t slap a band-aid on something and decide that it’s the final and only solution to stopping violence in our society. We need stricter control on guns (but not ban them completely). We need better mental health services and easier ways for people to be able to seek help if they are considering hurting themselves or others. We need to stop judging and hating each other in minute ways every single day. However minute those ways may be, we’re tearing down someone little by little. I know every single one of us, including myself, are guilty of it at one time or another. However, love overcomes all. Loving those around us can go a long way to decreasing hate and violence in our society. A perfect example is the people who, upon hearing the explosions at the Boston Marathon, ran to the site to help, rather than running away to save themselves. People rushed to the scene to help in any way they could. This shows that love and caring and community will always come out on top.
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